To the Editor: It should be obvious to even the most casual observer that tourism on Nantucket has reached critical mass. Traffic on Old South Road routinely backs up for miles on the way to the roundabout. Milestone Road is more of the same. Pleasant Street to Five Corners is gridlocked. Elin Hilderbrand could write a new novel while stuck in traffic on Nobadeer Farm Road. Finding a parking space at the Stop and Shop is like winning the lottery. The Sconset Bluff Walk is at a standstill. The noise of temporary tenants disturbs the silence of our neighborhoods. Tourists in town fill the sidewalks like Fifth Avenue at Christmastime. And less visible, but even more important, is the enormous strain on Nantucket’s fragile ecosystems and ability to provide essential services.

But let’s not rest on our laurels. We need to attract more tourists. Let’s turn 75,000 tourists in July and August into 150,000 and more. It will take some work, but I am confident that we can and will make it happen.

How? With sweeping regulatory changes, infrastructure improvements, and exciting new attractions. And with the help of a city government that clearly puts real estate and investment interests ahead of the needs of the community and the long-term quality of life on Nantucket.

The plan:


1. Allow full-time commercial short-term rental businesses anywhere on the island. Let’s make it easy for deep-pocketed outside investors to gobble up homes in Nantucket’s residential neighborhoods and convert them into full-time commercial short-term rental properties. And make no mistake, their appetite for money is insatiable. So with the blessing of a city government focused on the industrial real estate complex, short-term rental businesses can take over our residential neighborhoods. Loud parties, loud music – bring it on. It’s high time we liven up our dull, quiet neighborhoods. Watch out Daytona Beach, here comes Nantucket. It’s a beautiful thing. The city government can effectively circumvent fundamental principles of residential zoning by allowing short-term rental businesses (mini-hotels) in our residential neighborhoods.

2. Allow commercial short-term rental companies to allow hourly stays to cater to those visitors who desire brief, but hopefully memorable and magical romantic encounters. This will allow investors in short-term rental companies to maintain a steady stream of income between longer-term rentals.

Full disclosure: Buying up and converting homes into commercial short-term rentals will deplete the housing supply for all permanent residents. It will make it even harder for essential workers like healthcare professionals, firefighters, law enforcement officers, and teachers to find affordable housing.

Anyway, let’s stick to our plan.


1. Significantly widen the impractically narrow streets in the historic city center to increase traffic capacity.

2. Cover the annoying cobblestones, a relic of times gone by, to speed up the flow of traffic.

3. Convert both Milestone and Old South Roads to four-lane freeways (two lanes in each direction). Install concrete Jersey barriers as a divider on both freeways and increase the speed limit to 60 mph. Replace the outdated Milestone roundabout with a cloverleaf interchange to accommodate the intersection of the two freeways.

4. Widen the Sconset Bluff Walk trail significantly to accommodate the installation of a moving walkway. This will efficiently accommodate many more tourists and solve the problem of annoying loiterers staring at the ocean view. Rename it to Sconset Bluff Ride.


1. Transform the Sconset Casino into a full-service 24-hour licensed gambling casino with state-of-the-art slot machines and gaming equipment. Fortunately, and in a nod to historical continuity, the name can remain the same. Let’s face it, in order to elevate Nantucket as a tourist attraction, it’s imperative that we find a way to attract the heavyweights and high rollers. With any luck, we can make Nantucket a premier gambling destination.

2. Build a huge boardwalk along the beach in Madaket with electronic arcades and old-school accents. Because who can resist a killer sunset, cotton candy and a thrilling game of Skee-ball?

3. Replace the stairs to Steps Beach with a cable car (preferably Swiss-made). I have a ton of ideas for additional attractions to attract more tourists to Nantucket, but I’ll save that for another day. Suggestion: Consider a giant Ferris wheel at Children’s Beach and jet ski rentals in Polpis for starters. The possibilities are endless.

I trust you found my proposal persuasive. Together, and with the help of a city government willing to commercialize the entire island, we can make Nantucket a tourist destination to rival Coney Island, Daytona Beach, and Seaside Heights on the Jersey Shore, or…dare I dream…Atlantic City.

Alan Rubinstein